Letting go

imageFor a good while, I have been unable to relax in my own house.  I’m irritated when everyone is home at the weekend, feel as if I’m non-stop cleaning, picking up after the little one and nagging at the kids (and my husband) to tidy up their things.  I think I’ve probably called our home a “prison” more than a handful of times to my husband.  I know he can’t understand this, because he’s completely oblivious to any kind of clutter unless it means he can’t find something that he “put on the table last week” or used six months ago and of course it is NOT his fault.  Anyway, this is not a rant at my husband.  But it does have something to do with my views of where the problem lay.

See, for a good long while, I thought the problem with the clutter was him.  He is the one that buys things for each purpose, or holds onto things “just in case”.

We had several hand towels that come to us as apology gifts from local building workers, new businesses, etc. that he wants on hand just in case.

He has shoes and clothing for every sport, even though he hardly ever plays any.

Whenever I was doing a clear out, I would go from room to room, but mostly start with his things.  Once I found out he had 22 pairs of socks, which only convinced me more that he was the root of the problem.  I mean, who needs 22 pairs of socks??!!  Obviously my husband was a nutter.  And he was making my life miserable.  With his excessive socks and sportswear of an athlete without a washing machine.

So every year I would tackle the house, usually giving up half way through, or sometimes feeling that I’d finished and being happy with it.  I would buy storage boxes and put things neatly inside them, so tidy looking.  Yes, we had a lot of stuff, but yay, it was all stored so nicely!

The first point of change from this annoying routine was reading about Madame Chic and her capsule wardrobe.  I had a LOT of clothes.  Living in Japan, where the clothing sizes started at a UK size 2 (I kid you not) and go up to a UK size 10, which is sometimes called an LL, just to add to the feeling of being a whale when you are not.  These days you might find a size 12 or even a 14 in the more western clothing shops, and there are a lot more online shopping sources these days than there were 14 years ago, but I suppose the thought of clothes not being readily available had make me less likely to throw things away that were either past their best, or the wrong size.  Plus with having children, there is a tendency to hold onto clothes that are smaller/bigger than your size at that present time, “just in case”.

So I dreamed of a capsule wardrobe.  I needed numbers and examples, and scoured the Internet to get examples and ideas.  I bought myself a shirt, as this is supposedly one of the capsule staples.  Well, I have a large chest and a comparatively small waist, so shirts often don’t work for me..I end up having to buy a much bigger size and still then can’t move properly because I’m trying to avoid a button gape and showing the world my bra.  So I found an ingenious trick where you sew the button placket most of the way down and wear the shirt like a top.  Hmm, yes that worked, but in the end I just realised that I hate shirts, so I never really wore it and out it went.  Lost a little faith in the capsule wardrobe staples list and decided to do it my own way.  I sold a few of my clothes, because I saw clothes as just being so valuable still. This was a lot of hassle really, and the thought of it often stopped me from getting around to sorting out my clothes.  I finally started throwing out the clothes that I didn’t want/need anymore and felt a bit guilty for “wasting” them (some of them were unworn or only slightly worn).

Recently, I decided that it was time for yet another declutter.  I had heard about Marie Kondo on the grapevine, how she was the next big thing in decluttering, but in the back of my mind, thought she was probably another annoying know-it-all with tips that I couldn’t follow through on.

For some reason though, I’m not exactly sure why, but probably to see what all the fuss was about.  I decided to buy her book,  “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”.  I got it on Kindle, because then I could read it straight away, and what good is another book to add to the decluttering list anyway?

Now it sounds very cheesy and I almost hate what I’m going to write, but I have to say that reading that book was just what I needed at this time.  I also cringe a little when I write this, but it must be said that this book has changed my life.

There, I said it.  If you have read the book, and done the process, then you will know what I mean.  If not, you will think I am a loony most probably, but I don’t care too much.  What you think of me is your business, after all.

I won’t go into too much detail about the book, but the basics are to avoid a continuous decluttering session and to have a massive sort out ONCE.  This can take any amount of time, but you can’t expect to get this done in a day, or even a week.  It takes a while.  This is to slim down your possessions to a comfortable level for you personally.  There is no number, no ideal amount of possessions, just to focus on what you keep and make sure it is things that make you happy.  Obviously there are going to be things that don’t make you feel particularly happy that you still have to keep, but surprisingly these are quite a small part of your possessions anyway.  I tackle MY stuff first.  This is way easier than taking responsibility for someone else’s stuff and getting blamed for chucking it out.  The best part of this is that you sort by category and not location.  And you take everything OUT of where it lives or lies scattered and put it all together so that you can really see what you have.

When you think about it, the idea is simple.  It’s like those lifestyle programmes where they lay a week’s worth of food on a table and people are shocked at the crap they eat, or they put clothes in a warehouse and show people how much they have.  People are always shocked, and quite rightly so.  I found that I had a lot of each category scattered around the house and when I brought them all together, the results most often surprised me.  Even when I had the category together, seeing it all laid out on the floor/bed/table usually surprised me.

I have been doing this for around three weeks, but I have been doing it every day for at least 2 hours each time, sometimes a lot more.  The very strange thing is, that every time I have done a category, there has been some different physical effect on me.  I thought this was very odd, but on further reading in Kondo’s book (I started the process before I had finished the book), she talks of people having upset stomachs or other things during the clear out.  It really is surprising how things own you, or how you attach yourselves to things.

So I think I’ve wittered on long enough.  I’ll be doing individual posts on each category.  So please skip if it’s not your thing.  If it is, then yay, read on 😉

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